KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs (4-3) welcome the struggling New York Jets (1-7) to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday seeking a third straight win.
Kansas City is riding high after a 34-7 win against the St. Louis Rams last week in which they scored on special teams, recorded seven sacks and added three rushing touchdowns. The Chiefs have won four of the past five games.
Quarterback Alex Smith suffered a bruised shoulder in Week 8, but is expected to play after practicing fully the entire week.
Smith, who is listed as probable for Sunday, also indicated the injury didn’t affect the lack of deep throws in Week 8.
“Nothing to do with that honestly,” he said. “Literally, for me I’m going where the defense tells me to and I’m not predetermining anything.”
While Smith and the Chiefs offense has been very efficient this year despite the presence of a deep vertical game, the defense looks to continue its strong start against a struggling Jets offense.
New York’s offense ranks last in yards per play (4.67) and passing yards per game (179.4) , and 28th in both yards per game (319.4) and points per game (18).
TALE OF THE TAPE
• The Chiefs rank third in rushing yards (140.7 yards per game) and 29th in passing (202.3 yards per game).
• The Jets rank fourth in rushing yards (140 yards per game) and last in passing (179.4 yards per game).
• The Chiefs run defense ranks 18th (112.9 yards per game) and is the league’s best against the pass (195.7 yards per game).
• The Jets rank 5th against the run (85.4 yards per game) and 14th against the pass (235.4 yards per game).
THE LAST TIME
The Jets lead the all-time series, 18-17-1, including three straight victories over the Chiefs, all of which came in New York.
Kansas City is 9-7 in the series as the home team and won the last meeting 27-7 at Arrowhead Stadium behind the rushing attack of Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson on Sept. 11, 2005.
The Chiefs hold a 4-4 all-time record against the Jets at Arrowhead Stadium.
MICHAEL VICK STARTS FOR JETS
Jets quarterback Michael Vick will make his first career start for the team after relieving Geno Smith last week. While some believe the former first overall pick is not the same playmaker he used to be, Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton is still worried about Vick.
“He’s still a big threat,” Sutton said. “He’s the kind of guy that you can never say, ‘The play is over’, which puts a lot of pressure on the back end people because you can rush him and you’ve got him dead to rights and he can still avoid and get away and extend the play.”
This marks Vick’s fourth career start against the Chiefs, including one last year as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. He has totaled just one touchdown and four interceptions in those four starts against the Chiefs, but rushed for 99 yards on four attempts last season.
“We’re pretty familiar with what he can do,” Sutton said. “We’re pretty familiar with what he can do. He had some big runs, scrambles against us a year ago.”
HOUSTON LEADS NFL IN SACKS
Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston has emerged as a premier pass rusher, leading the NFL with 10 sacks this season. He has recorded at least one sack in all but one game this season, including three last week.
While Houston has always been talented, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton believes his success is due to better understanding the game.
“I think he’s got great physical skills,” Sutton said. “But I think the other thing he’s really taken to a level that’s allowing him to be really successful is that he understands the person that he is rushing against, he understands formations, which all those little things allow you to play a little bit faster or maybe give you just a little bit of an edge.”
BATTLE OF STRONG DEFENSES
While the Chiefs defense has seen injuries to key players, the unit has been among the NFL’s best in many statistical categories this season.
There have been numerous new faces in the Kansas City secondary, yet they rank first in pass defense and haven’t allowed more than 250 passing yards in a single game. The defense has yet to allow a rushing touchdown and currently ranks third in total yards, points per game, as well as third down efficiency.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, who spent 13 years with the Jets, has borrowed from his time there.
“It’s a lot of what we did in New York and what Rex (Ryan) brought to New York from Baltimore,” Sutton said. “I think each system goes off a little bit on its own as you get to a place … A lot of it honestly is driven from what we did in New York.”
By comparison, the Jets defense ranks sixth in yards allowed per game (320.8) , fifth in rushing yards allowed per game (85.4) and seventh in yards allowed per play (5.24).
Jets coach Rex Ryan on Bob Sutton’s prospects of landing a head coaching job:
“I was surprised never got a head coaching job last year. Hopefully he’ll get one this year. I hope it’s not mine, but he really is a great coach.”
Chiefs linebacker Josh Mauga on playing against his former team:
“There’s no hard feelings. They kind of made way; I guess they just figured I was done … Yeah, it’ll be great to get back on the field and show them that I can still play.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid on whether the wide-open nature of the NFL is a good thing:
“Well, it’s exciting. If you’re a defensive coordinator then probably not so good. From an offensive standpoint, yeah that’s pretty good.”
Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub on the Kansas City Royals’ season:
“When I was in Chicago, we had the White Sox in 2005. They went all the way and won it. It was kind of contagious for us, too. The next year, we went to the Super Bowl so those kind of things – the guys see how hard they have to work and what it took for them to get there. It kind of carries over to our team as well.”
After a slow start, the Chiefs have shown the ability to beat down the lesser teams on their schedule.
Although new starting quarterback Michael Vick may inject some life into the Jets struggling offense, don’t expect him to turn it around in one week, especially in a tough environment. The Chiefs defense shouldn’t have much of a problem keeping Vick and the running game contained.
The Jets defense anchored by defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson can present problems, especially against an offensive line that struggles in pass protection. But the Chiefs line settled down last week after a strong Rams’ pass rush sacked quarterback Alex Smith twice.
The Chiefs may not score many points Sunday, but they won’t have to.
Outcome: Chiefs 24, Jets 9.